Osteochondrosis: causes, treatment, prevention, diagnosis

Osteochondrosis is a degenerative dystrophic disease of the spine, which causes the shape of intervertebral discs, vertebral bodies and articular surfaces to change and disappear. Generally, the degenerative process mainly affects bones and ligaments. This condition is considered to be one of the most common causes of back pain.

Most diagnosed cases of osteochondrosis occur in the waist. Such statistics are natural, because this part of the spine bears the load of the entire upper body. Osteochondrosis can cause displacement of the vertebrae, so intervertebral hernias or compression of blood vessels and nerve endings can occur. Osteochondrosis is a very painful disease, which brings a lot of discomfort to patients and is difficult to treat.

Spinal Osteochondrosis

The types and stages of osteochondrosis

There are four types of osteochondrosis.

The disease is divided into:

  • Lumbar osteochondrosis;
  • Cervical osteochondrosis;
  • Thoracic osteochondrosis;
  • Common osteochondrosis-damage to two or more parts of the spine.

The explanation for the positioning of osteochondrosis is simple-the disease occurs in those sectors that are subject to the most stress and high mobility.

The disease develops in stages, from local symptoms to systemic manifestations.

The stages of development of osteochondrosis are as follows:

  • Vertebral instability caused by violation of the position of the intervertebral disc. At this stage, the patient feels uncomfortable with the movements affecting the affected spine. At this stage of osteochondrosis, the spine is very vulnerable to injury.
  • The annulus fibrosis is destroyed and the intervertebral fissure is reduced.
  • This stage is characterized by rupture of the annulus fibrosus and one or more disc nuclei herniated. Intervertebral hernia occurs and the spinal cord is deformed.
  • Due to bone growth, the patient's movement is restricted, and the pain syndrome is obvious. The spinal ligaments become stiff.

At any of these stages, successful treatment of osteochondrosis is still possible, but the further away, the more difficult it is to get rid of its consequences, and it is almost impossible to get rid of the disease in the final stage.

Causes of osteochondrosis

The complete list of causes of osteochondrosis is very numerous. It includes individual factors and their combinations, which become the cause of disc displacement.

But in most cases, the development of osteochondrosis is due to the following reasons:

  • Inheritance-If one of the parents has osteochondrosis, the person is at risk because the structure of the intervertebral cartilage is usually inherited;
  • Hard work, the load exceeds the hygiene standards allowed by the workers;
  • Staying in one location for a long time can also be an important factor. Usually, people in the sedentary industry will be diagnosed with osteochondrosis.
  • Various back diseases that cause curvature of the spine;
  • Vitamin deficiency and vitamin deficiency;
  • Back injury
  • Infectious diseases;
  • Congenital defects of the spine, leading to rapid disappearance of intervertebral discs;
  • The body ages naturally;
  • obesity;
  • Constant pressure
  • Low temperature.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis

Depending on the location of the disease, its symptoms may vary greatly. This is because herniated discs and vasoconstriction affect the nearest tissues and organs, resulting in many symptoms inherent only in the spinal cord. Therefore, the symptoms of different types of osteochondrosis should be considered separately.

Symptoms of lumbosacral osteochondrosis

Lumbosacral (or lumbar for short) osteochondrosis is the most common type of this disease. The lower back acts as a shock absorber for most sports and turns performed by people.

The symptoms of undergraduate lesion location are as follows:

  • Lower back pain can get worse with exercise, sharp turns, or being in one position for a long time. Pain, usually, early pain, severe pain rarely occurs, and may be a symptom of intervertebral hernia;
  • Leg pain caused by compression of the root of the spinal cord. This pain may be different-shooting, pain, only spreading to one side of the thigh;
  • Mobility is limited, and the patient feels pain when turning, bending, and sitting down. If the patient adopts a position that is comfortable for him, the pain will disappear.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

In recent years, cervical osteochondrosis is not uncommon. The vertebrae in this part are very close to each other, but the muscular framework of the cervical spine is underdeveloped. Cervical osteochondrosis can cause the vertebrae to shift, and then squeeze the nerve endings and blood vessels, causing pain.

The main symptoms of undergraduate disease development are:

  • Headache. Dizziness caused by cervical osteochondrosis is also one of the most typical symptoms, because the compression of nerves and blood vessels is manifested in this way. The patient described the pain as constant, dull, and oppressive. Headaches aggravate with head rotation and movement, and are rarely relieved with analgesics. The patient also feels dizzy when turning his head to the side;
  • Shooting pain that can be felt even in the fingers;
  • Pain in arms and chest. Pain in the heart area, similar to angina, but can last for several hours;
  • Numbness and tingling of fingers;
  • Tongue numbness.
Cervical osteochondrosis

Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis

Thoracic osteochondrosis is one of the rarest forms of this disease. The main reason for its appearance is scoliosis. Spinal curvature can be congenital or acquired. Due to the location of the pain, this type of osteochondrosis is difficult to diagnose. For thoracic osteochondrosis, back pain and soreness are characteristic.

Other symptoms of breast osteochondrosis include:

  • If a person moves or bends over, chest pain will get worse. Patients usually describe the pain as shingles;
  • Pain in the heart, liver, and stomach;
  • Numbness in the chest;
  • Offensive function.

Common symptoms of osteochondrosis

Since common osteochondrosis is a combination of several different forms of disease, it manifests as a combination of characteristic symptoms of thoracic, cervical and lumbar osteochondrosis, depending on their existence.

If you find that you have similar symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. It is easier to prevent disease than to deal with the consequences.


In order to diagnose osteochondrosis on the back, the neurologist prescribes a spinal study as follows:

  • Radiography
  • CT scan;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.

How is osteochondrosis treated?

In most cases, osteochondrosis is treated conservatively. Doctors always prescribe several treatments, including medications, exercise therapy, and other methods.

The most common treatments for osteochondrosis are:

  • physiotherapy;
  • Different types of massage;
  • Medical preparations;
  • Traction
  • Reflexology
  • Manual therapy
  • Exercise therapy.

Let's take a closer look at each of these methods.


It is almost always used to treat lumbar osteochondrosis. Physical therapy uses lasers, ultrasound, and magnetic vibrations to help relieve pain. It also helps to neutralize inflammation. This method allows you to reduce the amount of medication needed to suppress pain. no side effects.

Massage therapy

Therapeutic massage has the same positive effects as physical therapy. But it cannot be used when the disease is in the acute phase. The massage treatment during the relief period has a positive effect on the state of the nervous system, relieves pain and excessive muscle tension, stimulates blood circulation and strengthens the blood vessel wall. In addition, massage therapy can increase the body's resistance to diseases and normalize the metabolic process.

However, therapeutic massage has some contraindications and may not be available. These include skin diseases, open wounds, and any inflammatory processes in the body.


Medical treatment for osteochondrosis of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine is almost always performed. Usually, drugs are used during the worsening of the disease, and their effect is to relieve pain symptoms. Tablets, ointments, gels and capsules are divided into many types according to their scope of action and their types. There are methods to repair cartilage tissue, ointments to stimulate blood circulation, gels with warming effect, and other methods to improve the function of the body's movement system.


The traction of the spine is its extension. During the stretching process, the vertebrae are evenly distributed along the entire length of the spine, and the excessive pressure on the osteochondrosis area will subside. For traction, special simulators and equipment are used. This method is not an isolated treatment, it just helps relieve pain and release compressed nerves and blood vessels. During traction, the spine assumes its natural shape, however, additional massages and procedures are required to repair it.

Spinal traction for osteochondrosis


Reflexology is usually combined with massage therapy. It is based on correct movement of pain points and reflex zones. As an independent method, this therapy is not used, but it can be used as a good supplement to other methods of treating cervical osteochondrosis and other types of this disease. Foot massage can relieve the pain and restore the natural load of the spine, but the effect is very short-lived.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy is often used to correct spinal curvature. This type of therapy, like other methods of physically influencing the spine, refers to extras. Although temporarily effective, they are quickly lost without medication, exercise, and other treatments for osteochondrosis. A stopgap measure.

Exercise therapy

Physical therapy is considered to be the main method of treating osteochondrosis, regardless of its location. This is a very effective method to strengthen the back muscles by applying limited pressure to the joints and muscles. Exercise for cervical osteochondrosis can only be done under the supervision of the coach or according to his recommendations. Exercise therapy can be performed at any age and in any form of osteochondrosis, the only exception is the acute phase of the disease and severe back injuries, which may worsen. Exercise therapy helps to get rid of back pain, restore flexibility of the spine and improve the overall health of the patient.

Therapeutic gymnastics for osteochondrosis includes a set of exercises that do not require much physical strength, focusing on slowly improving the patient's muscle tone. They can be carried out by the patients themselves with the participation of doctors, or they can be carried out using additional training equipment.

Exercise therapy includes the following types of techniques:

  • Mechanical therapy-this type of exercise is performed by the patient on special equipment and simulators. When a person's movement is difficult, this method is used in the case of severe spinal injury with osteochondrosis. If necessary, this method also helps the development of certain muscle groups and helps to improve posture;
  • Exercise therapy is a combination of breathing and physical exercise, and its effect is directly aimed at the development area of osteochondrosis. This course is developed individually for each patient and helps to improve joint mobility, muscle tone, elasticity of ligaments and tendons;
  • terrenkur-trekking, including a series of simple exercises and sports activities. Using this method can improve the work of the cardiovascular system, increase endurance, and improve respiratory function;
  • Hydrodynamic therapy-gymnastics, exercises in the swimming pool. It is usually carried out in sea water or warm water. Exercise helps strengthen muscles, joints and ligaments, and improves the health of patients;
  • Medical swimming is a good way to prevent and treat various types of osteochondrosis. It helps to cultivate the correct posture and natural position of the shoulder spine. Swimming can even help correct spinal deformities.

Gymnastics for osteochondrosis

Any type of osteochondrosis needs to be treated with a small load and exercise. This method not only helps to get rid of the pain and discomfort as soon as possible, but also speeds up the overall treatment process, restores the posture and increases the flexibility of the spine. Each type of osteochondrosis involves a different type of exercise therapy. Depending on the location of the disease, the complex can target specific muscle and vertebral groups.

Exercise methods for lumbar osteochondrosis

Swimming is considered to be the most effective way to treat lumbar osteochondrosis. It is also recommended to perform a set of special exercises and therapeutic exercises on the simulator. Most exercises are designed to strengthen your back muscles. One of the most common exercises is "bicycle". It is done lying on your back. The patient exercises with his feet, imitating the rotation of a bicycle pedal. Another popular exercise-with the support of a bent elbow, you need to bend several times in the thoracic spine area and fix your posture for 4 seconds. The exercise should be repeated no more than five times in a complex. In this case, the pressure level should be adjusted by the patient. If the physical condition permits, it can be gradually increased. If the patient feels pain during gymnastics, the exercise must be stopped or temporarily stopped.

Exercise for cervical osteochondrosis

To treat cervical osteochondrosis, you need to make an appointment for two kinds of gymnastics:

  • Cervical spine exercises, where the range of motion is the smallest. In this case, the patient himself will generate resistance to the movement of the neck with his hands. The purpose of the exercise is to overcome this resistance, thereby strengthening the neck muscles;
  • The second part of the technique involves dynamic exercises and head rotation, which increases the range of motion of the cervical joints. All exercises related to strengthening the neck should be performed at a slow speed, without sudden movements, and without significant pressure.

As a supplement to exercises, health paths and therapeutic swimming can be prescribed. The purpose of both treatment methods is the same as that of treatment exercises-to increase the mobility of the cervical spine.

Exercise for Thoracic Osteochondrosis

A characteristic of thoracic osteochondrosis treatment is that most of the exercise is performed while standing. For most patients with this diagnosis, the most common options are arm swing and trunk bending. The warm-up before gymnastics is done in a sitting position-on a chair. When inhaling, the patient puts his hands behind his head, bends back, and then presses on the top of the chair back. When exhaling, the patient lowers his arm along his body.

Another exercise of the Thoracic Osteochondrosis Treatment Complex is back flexion while standing on all fours. Absolutely all types of exercises should be done slowly, without sudden movements. Swimming, mechanical therapy and hydrodynamic therapy are also suitable for patients with thoracic osteochondrosis.

Exercises for common types of osteochondrosis

The common type of osteochondrosis is difficult to treat because it contains two diseases at the same time. In order to effectively combat it, a special set of exercises is being developed, including various gymnastics methods. In this case, the more serious the disease damages the spine, the worse the effect of exercise. Exercising under the supervision of a coach can help patients recover faster and prevent possible complications. The latter include neuropathic diseases, autonomic nerve diseases, organ damage, and changes in the position of the vertebrae.

At first, the doctor recommended that the patient should not perform more than three to four exercises from the complex developed for him. In this case, priority should be given to doing a few exercises a day instead of doing a lot of exercises once a week. No practice should harm the patient. If the patient feels unwell, the load should be reduced. If reducing the load does not help, you need to stop exercising and switch to another more suitable exercise.

When the disease is in the acute phase, only one set of exercises is allowed to stand or sit, and when it is relieved, you can stand or exercise with all four limbs.

All these exercises are suitable for treating osteochondrosis at home. But they should be carried out strictly according to the coach's instructions and only after completing the recommended initial course with the doctor and ensuring that the entire complex and corresponding load is carried out in the correct way.

Exercise treatment of osteochondrosis


Osteochondrosis without proper treatment can cause complications such as:

  • Plant dystonia;
  • Radiculitis;
  • Intervertebral hernia;
  • Violation of the oxygen supply to the brain.